public speaking

VISTA Leader

VISTA Name: 
Saul Baizman
Program Start: 
Program End: 
Project Description: 

Saul was the VISTA Leader for the 2004 - 2005 Program year and worked to manage, motivated, and connect all the Digital Arts Service Corps members out in the field. Saul also worked to redesign the DASC website and implement a better system for VISTAs to record and share their experiences online.

Project Outcome: 

VISTAs have not had an easy time keeping in touch with each other, both during and after service. In some cases certain personal information wasn’t even kept on file, such as a home telephone number. I created a global addressbook last year and incorporated it into the redesigned VISTA website this year. Alumni and current VISTAs now have a simple facility on the Project website to share their information as well as access other VISTAs’ information. In enhancing VISTA alumni resources and communications the VISTA Leaders wrote a form letter to all past alumni announcing the creation of a new CTC VISTA alumni connections mailing list (January), which also served to connect alumni to the great CTC VISTA directory networking resource. We plan to use this addressbook to periodically send a newsletter to alumni and hold reunions.

Assistant Director Paul Hansen and I worked collaboratively to re-launch the VISTA website (, creating a mock-up on a development server before going live with the re-design. In addition to migrating the directory pages off the development server, I replaced the static roster listings (current VISTAs, alumni, all VISTAs, and organizations) with dynamic database- backed pages, laying the groundwork for a recruiting system in which potential supervisors can add and edit VISTA job descriptions directly on the website. (The rosters do not at present list who is a second- or third-year VISTA, and it does not indicate any special titles for people, like VISTA Leader, for example).

Developed enhanced VISTA resources. One of the biggest challenges any group of short-term workers faces is the loss of knowledge when the staff turns over. In an effort to combat the lack of knowledge retention between VISTA “classes,” Dan
Schackman and I erected a resource wiki on the Project website. A wiki is “a website that allows users to add content, as on an Internet forum, but also allows anyone to edit the content” ( The wiki technology is widely deployed across the Internet and was chosen for its ability to cater to both novice and advanced Internet users. Dan and I created a modest framework though which VISTAs and non-VISTAs alike can contribute to and maintain a database of resources exclusively targeted to CTC VISTAs. Dan and I fleshed it out with resources provided by VISTAs David Johnson and Michelle Rogers. I feel the wiki will serve as an effective tool enabling VISTAS to have greater participation

The Community Technology Review website ( was beefed up and migrated from an obsolete web server to a server which hosts all other CPCS website properties (CPCS, VISTA, CBC, etc.). Of note are the new comment approval system and the PayPal order page. The comment page will ease the approval process for user-submitted comments, and the order page will streamline CTR hardcopy purchases which can now be handled with a credit card. I also trained Dan Schackman to use the administration interface and made some minor code changes for the Winter 2005 issue.

Finally, I became savvy with Final Cut Pro and edited a couple of small VISTA project videos for distribution on the web ( I massaged the swearing in footage for the 2004-05 crop of VISTAs originally shot on September 1 by former VISTA Leader James Fishwick, featuring US Representative Barney Frank and UMass/Boston Chancellor Keith Motley. A couple more projects have been added to the archives, including a Liz Cavano’s half-hour “What’s a VISTA” (2001) and Scott Hillier’s “CTC VISTAs: A Day in the Life” (2003).

The past few months haven’t been spent exclusively glued to a keyboard and monitor. I spoke at Faneuil Hall in October on AmeriCorps Opening Day, an ambassador of the CTC VISTA Project. A number of situations arose with a few VISTAs, some of whom I tried to help with varying degrees of success. For my part I served as a liaison with a VISTA in Minnesota, who ended up leaving the program after transferring from her first assignment and failing to make her second assignment work; I supported two VISTAs in Massachusetts, one in California, and one in North Carolina who had some conflicts with their supervisors and another experiencing some serious interpersonal conflicts with one of her co-workers. These situations have been very time and energy intensive, requiring frequent and detailed communication with VISTA support staff and the involved parties.

On a related front of Project responsibility, I assumed coordinating responsibilities for the monthly meetings among the Boston VISTAs, ensuring an agenda, chairperson, and minute-taker for every meeting as well as editing and posting the minutes

During the 05-06 project year, Saul’s supervisor said the following:
Saul has continued to lend his considerable technical skills to a number of projects– some to the benefit of the college others to the benefit of the Project. The addition of the reporting system to the Project’s ‘online application system’ has been an enormous help and was pulled-off pretty much without a hitch. Reports were submitted by participating organizations largely on-time! This was unheard of in the past and represents a huge leap forward in efficency. He continues to work on the application system. Currently he is revising it so that organizations can have and access more than one application– for multi-year projects. This revision is proceeding slowly however. In the role of VISTA Leader (and as the Leader of the other Leaders) Saul has performed well. Communication between the Leaders could be better (more frequent perhaps) but the improvement over previous years has been considerable largely due to his coordinating efforts which began well before the August 2005 PSO. Saul also plays a vital role as the person whom I bounce my ideas off of. As I often have bad ideas, the value of this cannot be underestimated.

Youth Digital Literacy Training Development

VISTA Name: 
Douglas Dumont
Program Start: 
Program End: 
Project Description: 

Douglas worked with Duke University faculty and students to develop CLICK (Creating Literacy in Computer Knowledge), a computer literacy training program for 6th graders. CLICK develops computer skills for at-risk middle school students, engaging them in an after-school setting that is interactive and fun. CLICK lessons include Internet research, word processing, spreadsheets, databases, and multimedia presentations. The website ( contains downloadable lesson plans and teaching modules, as well as tips and hints for starting up a technology training class.

Project Outcome: 

Douglas worked very well with Duke’s faculty and students. He recruited and trained students to teach CLICK, and he worked with the faculty and staff of the ISIS (Information Science and Information Studies) certificate program, primarily Edward A. Shanken, Executive Director, and Katie Watchman, Program Coordinator.

Douglas is now a graduate student in Biomedical Engineering at Duke.

Impact Quote: 

I am especially pleased with Douglas’ work. He completed all his tasks exceptionally well.

CTC Program Building

VISTA Name: 
Brenda Jackson
Program Start: 
Program End: 
Project Description: 

Brenda Jackson began her work as a VISTA volunteer with PLUK in June of 2002. Her principal goal has been to further develop the technology center programs, outreach to other community organizations and sustainability. We’ve come a long way and then some with Brenda’s assistance. The centerpiece has been funding for a state-wide tutoring program for at-risk children which is headquartered within the technology center. Brenda was a participant in an eight-month program for training collaborative teams around the state to evaluate technology needs for individuals with disabilities. We continue to benefit from her efforts by being awarded a Beaumont Foundation Grant she had written for a mobile lab to be used for training.

Project Outcome: 

Brenda made great steps in developing the programs of the technology center. These steps include: increasing the number of support volunteers for all programs, reaching out to other organizations that are trying to develop technology centers within their communities, researching funding options, applying for funding to ensure sustainability, developing a marketing plan for public awareness, presenting to groups, organizing training events in the center, and slowly increasing the quantity and quality of the programs in the center along with developing the infrastructure.

Project Accomplishments:
• 2 presentations on Web accessibility
• sent out electronic info to 100 people;
• 1 presentation on educational technology;
• organized a tutor program for 20 kids;
• organized ScienceQuest program for 10 kids (created collaboration with four organizations and designed a Web page about the program (;
• made contact with two other organizations, lining up space, computers, and program materials for satellite CTCs if funded, and wrote the grant for funding;
• currently working on establishing an education program for educators, paraprofessionals, and parents on assistive technology tools that are available.
• developing a catalogue of in-house resource materials;
• designing a flier for the assistive technology lab, revamping existing materials,
• designing a Web site for the assistive technology lab as part of the VISTA project.
• participated in the Montana Collaborative Empowerment Project
• participated in a Digital Media Workshop.
• designed web page for VISTA project (

Women Who Tech

September 15, 2010

Women Who Tech brings together talented and renowned women breaking new ground in technology who use their tech savvy skills to transform the world and inspire change. We provide a supportive network for the vibrant and thriving community of women in technology professions by giving women an open platform to share their talents, experiences, and insights.

Transmission Project